Santa Claus came a little early to Thomson on Christmas Eve.


Thanks to a large private donation and help from a group of local volunteers – including several Thomson firefighters, McDuffie County Partners for Success representatives spent Christmas Eve passing out toys in several McDuffie County neighborhoods.


“This was just such a blessing for our organization and community,” said Partners Executive Director Miriam Smith. “Just to see the faces on the children and the parents as they saw Santa Claus and received the gifts made this holiday so special for everyone involved.Eight straight hours of Santa arriving door to door with toys helped make Christmas a little merrier for many children and families.  It is the generous donations of the community that allow us to provide so much for families in McDuffie County.”


The day began at the Thomson Housing Authority, where Executive Director Kelly Evans compiled a list of many of the children in the community. In all, more than 1,000 presents were handed out in the Knox Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Street, Pitts Street and Cherokee areas.


“There were so many awesome things we saw that day,” Mrs. Smith said. “One little boy even brought Santa out the honey bun he’d left under the tree for him. Another woman cried as she told us how she had been swindled out of her Christmas in an internet scheme. However, we helped make sure her children got something for Christmas. It’s the stories like that that will stay with us forever.”


But the Christmas Eve event was not the group's only efforts to help local families have a better Christmas. Through its Presents from Partners program, the orgazation helped provide clothes and toys to more than 150 children this year -- a 300 percent increase over 2008. As the Family Connection and Communities in Schools site for McDuffie County, Partners compiled the list of families with assistance from the Housing Authority, Healthy Start, Department of Family and Children Services and McDuffie County Partners For Success.  Then Partners coordinated the pairing of local people, groups, and businesses with the families in need. 


“We are very grateful to all of those who stepped forward to adopt these families,” Mrs. Smith said.